The pandemic helped draw Sanford native Chris Krause back home from his acting career in New York City.
Now, he's brought his career to Sanford with a movie that he and filmmaker Jerry Aquino will be producing this summer.
Krause is starting a 30-day GoFundMe campaign on June 16 to try to raise $30,000 to help with the production of "Followers," a horror movie for which he wrote the script and will be one of the actors, while Aquino directs.
With a principal cast of four actors, it will be filmed from Aug. 15 to Sept. 3.
Krause graduated from Meridian High School in 2008, earned a theater degree at Central Michigan University, and attended Atlantic Acting School in New York.
"I lived in Brooklyn for six years as a professional actor," he explained. "I auditioned for TV things, for off-off-Broadway, for regional theater.
"But the pandemic shut the theater industry down. So I thought, 'It doesnt make sense for me to stay out here right now.' So I moved back home last August," Krause said.
But he didn't give up on acting. Like so many people over the past year, he is now just working from a different place.
In addition to acting, Krause has been writing movie scripts overthe past several years. And he finally decided, why keep waiting for someone else to buy his script?
"I was like, 'Im just going to do it myself,'" Krause said.
Looking for support
Krause and Aquino, who have worked together on some independent films in New York, are each investing $5,000 of their own funds into the movie and hoping to raise an additional $30,000 through GoFundMe.
"That ($40,000 total) is a very small budget for a film," Krause noted. "Most indie films are in the $1 million to $10 million range."The concept has to sell the film because you can't get the big names. I cant afford Jeff Daniels in this movie," Krause continued with a laugh. "We're going as low-budget as we can while still being as professional as possible and not sacrificing the product."
Krause said he is also talking with local businesses to seek support for the movie, such as hotels and catering companies.
As a Sanford native, he would also be happy to bring positive attention to an area hit so hard by last year's dam failures.
"Sanford is my home. I know friends who lost their houses," Krause said. "Making this movie can bring awareness (about Sanford to more people). The community might be excited to help support it, too."
Details about the GoFundMe account will soon be announced on the movie's Facebook page, which is facebook.com/followersfilm2021.
What the movie is about
"Followers" could be termed a thinking person's zombie movie.
The Facebook page gives this description of it: "Followers is a film in the vein of Get Out meets The Walking Dead. In a world where the infected target their victims based on the color of their skin, would you help those most at risk...or stand back and be a Follower?"
"It's exploring the feeling of what you do when you feel you no longer know the people you love, and trying to examine what turns someone into a follower," Krause said. "Are people willing to let others get hurt if it will keep them safe?"
And the movie is a commentary on race relations in the United States, he said.
"The main theme is even though there are these zombies, the actual tension is between the main characters, two of which are people of color and the other two of which are white," Krause said. "*A good movie can plant a seed that can lead to good discussions."
A lot of what happens in the movie will be implied rather than actually seen, Krause said.
"I use a lot of tension building," he said. "We dont have the budget to do 500 fully made-up zombies. But its also interesting to me when you dont see the zombies as much. The viewer will always imagine something scarier than what they can see. Thats what I love playing with."
The director's view
For his part, Aquino was impressed enough with Krause's script that he chose "Followers" as his first feature film to direct.
"I was amazed by the context that inspired him to (write) that film," Aquino said.
Aquino said the script resonates for him personally, describing himself as an "Afro-Latino" who grew up in the United States and whose parents are from the Dominican Republic.
He hopes the message of the film will resonate with viewers.
"Sometimes it has to start in your home. The antidote (for racism) starts there," he said. "You can't treat the world if you cant treat it inside your own household."
In terms of production of the film, Aquino emphasized that they will be carefully following health protocols to keep everyone involved safe from COVID-19: testing and sanitizing, among other things.
"Its costly, but its definitely worth it to have peace of mind while we shoot (the film)," he said, adding, "New York was ground zero for the pandemic, and its definitely in the back of everybody's minds (who has lived in New York)."
In terms of the GoFundMe campaign, Aquino said he is grateful for any donations.
"If people cant support it with monetary contributions, we ask them to tell a friend about it," he said. "We'll take any type of donation.
"Hopefully,everybody likes the film," Aquino added.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero